Once a child went to fight a dragon. He underestimated his enemy, and the only weapon he found to defend himself was a pencil. The boy jabbed at the soft underbelly of his foe, but it did not penetrate deep enough. The dragon’s fire soon destroyed the lad.
Maybe you memorized verses like John 3:16 when you were younger. That’s great! All of God’s Word is inspired and helps us flourish. However, if that is the only verse you know, you might want to fortify your spiritual arsenal to something beyond a pencil so you are prepared to face the enemy when temptation comes.
We Need More Than Digital Data
Perhaps you have wondered why, with a world of knowledge at our fingertips through the Internet, would anyone need to memorize Scripture? Isn’t it easier to search online to find a verse than spend time learning passages? Yes, in the world of modern technology, I can pull up information quickly, but what happens when my phone is not nearby? What if I am tempted to sin, yet can’t think of any reason not to give in, and don’t Google reasons why to obey God? Despite the advances of technology, Scripture memory will never become antiquated.
Committing God’s truth to memory gives the Holy Spirit more room to change me from the inside out. Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (NKJV). When my life is permeated with digital everything, my brain starts to atrophy. The Lord wants to transform my mind, which happens when I let Scripture nourish my soul.
Feed Your Mind on Truth
Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (NKJV). When all the riches of God’s Word dwell in me, I will have wisdom to face the challenges that society poses. Without God’s truth abiding in my heart and guiding my choices, I can fall prey to the trappings of this world instead of walking the straight and narrow. My heart rejoices when God’s Word rules in my life because I can give and receive correction in ways that align with good sound doctrine.
I desire to obey God, but first I must know what God has called me to do. Psalm 119:11 says, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You” (NKJV). When I store God’s truths deep inside the wellsprings of my life, the Holy Spirit can use those verses as spiritual weapons to help fight lies from the enemy. Think of Jesus when He was tempted in the desert. He recited Scriptures to Satan to deflect the attack and left without succumbing to the lure of evil. What an example He set for us to follow.
Fight with a Full Arsenal
As I learned from the story of the boy and the dragon, I can much better stave off temptation when I have a wide array of truth ready to slay the lies. One way I can escape sin is when the Holy Spirit reminds me of specific verses that apply to my trouble spots. For example, when I am tempted to blow up in anger at someone irritating, the Holy Spirit reminds me of Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (NKJV). In the moment, that verse helps me to bite my tongue and pray for the person instead of stirring up wrath.
This type of targeted Scripture memory applies to a wide set of temptations. For those struggling not to lust or look at pornography: learn Psalm 101:3, for those caught up in gossip: commit Proverbs 16:28 to heart, for those prone to rack up credit card debt: study Proverbs 22:7. I’ve found that learning Scriptures that fit my circumstances lets me live in victory. If your struggles are different than the ones I noted, memorizing Bible verses that address your areas of difficulty can help you triumph too.
Now that I’ve sold you on the importance of remembering God’s Word, maybe you are moaning because the thought of committing Bible verses to heart is daunting. Here is a link to an article Know the Word that includes a list of ten creative Scripture memory tips.
As you commit God’s Word to heart, don’t forget to pray for the Holy Spirit to help you. Memorizing Scripture is much easier with supernatural power than with just your own ability. Part of the Holy Spirit’s role is to help you recall the truths you’ve planted inside your soul (John 14:26). Ask Him where to start, and He’ll help you throughout the process. His desire is to grow closer to you and equip you to handle the hassles, temptations, and opportunities of each day.
The Holy Spirit can give you the right verse faster than any Internet search with His personalized service to help you recall the right Scripture at the right time. Commit God’s timeless words to heart, and they will sustain you for eternity. A sharpened sword of Spirit, the Word of God, will defeat the dragon so you can overcome sin.
This week's guest blog for Labor Day is by Danine Gruber. We met at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference earlier this year. Her quiet spirit produces powerful words that she weaves into morsels of encouragement for her readers. I am honored to share her blog with you today. May you labor unto the Lord and rest in His provision.
Labor and Ordered Rest
We celebrate a day recognizing the efforts of those before us, coming together as one for their country at large. Their skills were being poured out 12 hours a day, 7 days a week with minimal compensation and often, in the worst of conditions. An uprising occurred; strikes were held to bring about fair working conditions for the American people. Work may be necessary but its counterpart, rest, was as well. In 1882, the president declared the first Monday of September as a National holiday to commemorate the efforts of man and their need for rest.
I had to look up its origination, for like most Americans, I tended to think of it as a day to enjoy picnics and family time. The idea of rest, true rest and the need for it sails out the window in our cultures’ efforts to unceasingly gain or store up “more _____”. This day should cause us to recall why such a day was thought necessary to be instituted in the first place. It reminds us how our forefathers considered rejuvenation critical to the safety, productivity and overall health of the workforce.
I delved further into the history and found conflicting opinions as to which man brought the need for rest into focus. It was either McGuire, a labor board co-founder or Maguire, the machinist.
In reality, the ideas of fair labor and rest came not from a man but from God. Genesis 1 tells us in the beginning, He performed the precious work of creation in 6 days and rested on the seventh. Did he get tired? I think not. Isaiah 40:28 says, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable” (NKJV). Rest was a framework that He set forth for us to follow.
God told the Israelites in Exodus to institute one day every week, called the Sabbath, for rest and restoration. Once every 50th year, they set aside an entire year called the Year of Jubilee. The land, animals and people would be gifted with the chance to recover and rejuvenate (Leviticus 25:1-13). Debts would be cancelled, workers would be freed to go and return to their families and even the land was returned to its original owners.
Yet, the greatest rest and greatest work existing outside of Creation can be found in Hebrews 4, and in Revelation. I’m referring to the finished work of the Cross. Jesus made the way to have full relationship with the Father, eternal rest and freedom to walk unhindered. That’s what we share, celebrate, and rest in every day!
I get ready in the mornings by the dim glow of my night light. It takes me a long time to wake up, so any light blinds my sleepy eyes. Every night before I go to bed, I lay my clothes and shoes out beforehand so I don’t have to see anything in the morning. As the day progresses, I build up to more light until I am finally under bright fluorescent bulbs at my desk. If I want to do good work, I have to see what I am doing.
Light is so important because it reveals the world around us. Though our irises widen when we enter a dark room so we can see more, the better option would be to hit the light switch. Seeing in the light is so much easier. We don’t have to live in the dark, but there are some people who like the shadows.
In the Bible, darkness is often likened to evil and sin. Ephesians 5:11 (NKJV*) says, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” Some people think that they can hide whatever they do under the cover of night. If no one can see them, then certainly they will get away with their secret sins. What they don’t remember is that God’s vision works perfectly night and day (Psalm 139:12). Their wickedness will be exposed, and the Lord will punish them.
However, for those of us who know Christ, we do not have to be eternally punished for our sin, but it matters how we walk. We live under the freedom that comes from Jesus paying the debt we owed. We don’t have to stumble around in the night. Dawn has shed light on our lives so we may live righteously before our Lord. Ephesians 5:8-10 says, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.” Our lives can display the fruit of the Spirit as we walk in goodness, righteousness, and truth.
To actually live by the Spirit, our actions need to match our words so that we walk the walk instead of just talk the talk. People around us will recognize if act like hypocrites. More importantly, God sees our hearts. First John 1:6-7 says, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” That sweet companionship that comes from walking alongside Jesus help us to display His light to all.
While I may never turn the light on in my room to get dressed in the morning, I need to sit in spiritual light so that my path will be clear. Once I arrive at my desk, but before starting to work, I read a Psalm or Proverb every morning to shed Biblical truth on my heart and mind. This gives the Holy Spirit room to plant good thoughts in my mind that resurface throughout the day. God’s Word keeps the spiritual light shining so I can honor the Lord with my life. Let’s go walk in the light.
*All Scripture verses are taken from NKJV
Earlier this year, I was a bundle of nerves. Rest and relaxation were far from me as I strove to orchestrate my life to match what society defined as success. I didn't like my current circumstances and decided I had to do something to change.
The first area I tried to tackle in February was my relationship status. This was still during the lockdown, so my options to meet people were limited. I found out about online speed dating, and in my desperation, decided to try it. Bad idea. While there were some genuinely nice guys on there, none were a good fit for me. The two men who did contact me afterwards were both a little pushy. The first guy left me alone after I said I wasn't interested, and the second guy was much too young for me.
Obviously, my own attempts to find someone were pitiful. I argued with God over what He wanted me to do, because my efforts were going no where and fast. I thought I had two options "sink or swim." If I did nothing, I would never meet anyone and end up sad and alone. However, my doggy paddling was spinning me in circles, tiring me out so that sinking seemed inevitable regardless of whether I tried to meet someone or not.
After listening to me exert a lot of energy and frustration, the Lord told me there was a third way. I maintained, no, the saying is "sink or swim." There were only two possible outcomes. God then told me to float. He saw how trying to swim was eating away at my vigor for life. The Lord resolved my dilemma by telling me to trust Him. I was to lay on my back and rest. As I soaked in the light and warmth of the sun, He would hold me up and have the currents carry me to where He wants me. I just need to float.
I was shocked. It seemed to easy. Just float?!?!? Surely that couldn't be a legitimate option. God reminded me of Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths" (NKJV). If I would but trust Him, even when I didn't see Him working or understand what He was doing, He would direct my paths to where He wanted me to be. I had to admit the visual of floating was freeing.
The Lord told me that He wanted me to float in every area of my life during this season. I also have uncertainty over my long-term life plans and where I want to live. I tried for a month to buy a house, but was never chosen. I thought it was the Lord's leading, but maybe it wasn't His timing. I quit looking and have such greater peace. God will let me know if and when to try again.
Choosing to float is a daily decision. Some days I rest with warm waters lapping around me and listen to the gentle whispers of the Lord. He's in control. He's got good things for me. He won't let me drown. He is leading me to where I can best be used for His glory. As these truths fill my mind, my heart rate slows. Floating leaves space for me to hope for what God has for me without fretting about the hows and whens.
Sometimes, I try to swim again. I stick my head above the water and flail my arms about in the sea. I get news that looks like a shut door that I wanted open and try to find a way to swim under it. God tells me to keep floating. That may still be my door, just not yet. There are other doors I really wanted open that the Lord has painted a resounding No on the front. Those are not for my entry. There are off limits. I remind myself often of Psalm 84:11-12, "For the Lord God is a sun and a shield; the LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly, o Lord of hosts, blessed is the man who trusts in You! (NKJV)" If God says no, what I want is not good for me. He won't give me garbage.
I don't know where you are in your life right now. Maybe you've been trying to swim like crazy to get where you think you ought to be. Take time to rest. Turn over, lay on your back, and relax in the Lord's provision. God is Sovereign and good. We can trust where He leads us.
It's hardest to float when the waves are choppy. However, when I think of Peter, when he kept his eyes on Jesus, he walked on water. The Lord will sustain me even in the ocean. While sometimes seasons are dedicated to floating, even when I need to swim, I still must follow the Lord's leading. The key is to trust God. As I learn to float and rest in the Lord, He will carry me safe to shore. God will do the same for you.
This blog on laughter first appeared on Jennifer Thayer Knight's website. We met earlier this year through the Flourish Writer's Retreat and swapped stories. (You really must link to her site for the rest, because she has a picture of the cutest kids ever laughing that will make your heart happy. :) May this blog encourage you to take a load off and laugh a little.
Looking for Laughter
I went to a picnic with families from my church. The children ran around the grass, laughing and giggling to themselves. Their happiness was contagious and soon the adults joined in with hearty ha-has.
One of my friends at the picnic is a kindergarten teacher. She noted her students laughed throughout the school day. It took the tiniest thing to amuse them. The kids would make funny eyes at each other and clamor to hear the same knock-knock joke over and over, which they found hilarious every time. She already kept an eye out for beauty, but realized she needed to attune her life to joy and especially laughter.
Recently, I posted a guest blog about God's Word on my friend Nancy Lee's website www.inspirationallee.com. We met through the online Flourish Writer's conference and swapped stories. The following is an excerpt of the full article. Hit the button with a link to her site to read the rest. I've found that meditating on God's Word, especially in several versions, gives me deeper insight into the truths God is showing me through Scripture. May this bless and encourage you.
Peace from Meditating on God's Word
My heart was weak and weary as circumstances jumbled one problem on top of another. My boyfriend had broken up with me the week of Valentine’s Day. Two weeks later I started having problems with my boss. Then COVID-19 swooped in, and the world shutdown. At the beginning, some days I barely slept or ate. My body was in shock, and I started to harden my emotions. I needed God’s truths to pump new life into my frail heart.
One night, I talked on the phone with my friend Vivian for hours. She listened to me sputter and then encouraged me straight from God’s Word. I explained to her that the line between myself and God was paper thin. Few times in my life have I heard the Lord as clearly and often as I did that in that month of misery. God kept telling me that He loved me and to trust Him. I marveled at how close God felt. She said, “Of course! The Lord is near to the brokenhearted” (Psalm 34:18). I got shivers. My heart was shattered, but the gift I received was an intimate connection to the Lord that I’d only found through abject pain. I had no hope apart from the Lord. I choose to embrace truth, even when all my eyes saw was heartache.
This week I share a guest blog from a new friend I met through the Flourish Writer's Conference Nancy Lee. She loves to share inspirational stories from people who have overcome difficult circumstances on her blog Inspirational Lee. I was blessed by her beautiful story where she shares about how focusing on lovely flowers during hard times encouraged her soul.
A Ministry of Flowers
By Nancy Lee
“Finally, brothers, . . . whatever is lovely, . . . if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8 ESV).
I didn’t realize until the last flower had shriveled, and the vase was put away how the lovely flowers surrounding my mother were encouraging her and lifting her spirits during the most challenging season of her life.
When my mother was diagnosed with brain cancer, we gave up our hopes of celebrating her 90th birthday. Her doctor told me she probably wouldn’t make it to Thanksgiving, let alone her birthday the following July.
But God had different plans. Ten and a half months after the diagnosis that had threatened to take her life in a few weeks, Mom made it to the 90-year milestone. Mom was in the later stages of cancer by then, so we kept the celebration simple – a special meal and cake with three daughters, a son, and a son-in-law. And lots of cards and flowers.
Her small apartment was filled with flowers she had received as gifts. Lavender roses, red carnations, blue hydrangeas, and pink Peruvian lilies set in vases on the table in front of the recliner where she spent her days. More flowers covered her kitchen counter.
The flowers lasted for weeks, but little by little, they began to wither and die. When I would come in to care for her during the day, I would weed out the dying ones and rearrange what was left. Finally, she was left with one bouquet, and eventually, with one flower which finally succumbed.
On the day the last flower died, she looked at me with innocent eyes and said, “Where are all my flowers?”
My mother would never have asked for anything for herself, but the cancer had affected her short-term memory, and she had lost the usual filters we have as adults. This is when I realized how much the beauty of the flowers were ministering to her.
There was no explanation I could give her that she would understand or remember, so I went out and bought a bouquet of flowers which I placed on the table in front of her. She responded with a smile. I made sure that she had flowers within her view until the day she passed away weeks later.
Then it was my turn. As I walked to the front of the church at my mother’s funeral, I froze when I realized that I would have to stand next to her casket to give her eulogy. Then I focused on the flowers. The lovely shades of white, pink, and purple blossoms were certainly arrayed more beautifully than “ . . . Solomon in all his glory . . . “ (Matthew 6:29 ESV). Their beauty gave me peace and calmed my spirit.
As I was leaving the catered picnic we had after the funeral, my sister called to me, “Uncle Dub texted me and wanted to make sure someone takes home the arrangement he sent.”
“I left it at the cemetery,” I said, “but I’ll pick it up on the way home. Tell him it is going home with me.”
I stopped at the cemetery and picked up my uncle’s arrangement and another one we had purchased from a florist. I glanced back as I left, pleased at how her grave looked with the spray of flowers that had been on her casket. When I got home, I breathed in the sweet scents of the delicate flowers and gazed at their beauty. I was so thankful for the nudge from my uncle to bring the flowers home.
I spread the flowers out on my dining room table and pulled each stem out of the green floral foam, then I arranged them into separate bouquets and put them in vases. I added the big purple ribbons from the florist to the largest bouquet and placed it on the table in my front entry way. The smaller bouquets I brought back to my mother’s apartment building to give out to her friends.
The days following the funeral were stressful. We had a short period of time to clear out her apartment, so several of us were coming and going, sorting and dividing her treasures, making trips to the thrift store and post office, and filling garbage bags. They were long demanding days, but I would go home each night and be blessed by the beauty and aroma of the flowers that greeted me as I walked in the door.
Finally, we were done with the clean out, and I looked at the few wilted flowers left from my beautiful bouquet. I felt like my mother had when her flowers were gone. “Where are my flowers?” I thought, “I’m still grieving; I’m not ready to be done with them.” So, I went out and bought myself a big bouquet of flowers. I kept a bouquet of fresh flowers on my table all through the winter and into the Spring. And I found many occasions to bless others with flowers as well.
It wasn't until this experience that I realized how focusing on “whatever is lovely,” in this case, in the form of flowers, truly ministers to one’s soul.
As we are now in the season when flowers are blooming all around us, take the time to observe the delicate, fragrant blossoms, and let God minister to you through his lovely creation.
Nancy Lee is a former Christian school teacher and Recreation Therapist/Activities Director. She lives in a small town in the Mohawk Valley in Upstate New York, an area rich in history and natural beauty.
Nancy and her husband, Paul, are the parents of four young adults and a son-in-law. All four of them, and their peers, inspire and challenge her. They are bright, creative, innovative thinkers, driven, and out to change the world. She loves to hike, explore, and to walk her three small, mixed-breed dogs. She also loves to spend time with her family, read, and write. Connect with her at her website: Inspirational Lee.
Access to the Bible is so prevalent in America, why should anyone memorize verses? The Bible is the best-selling book of all time. We can find it in any local book store, hotel, or hospital room. One can even read the Bible online and cross-reference against at least a dozen versions to understand the Scripture better. Our Constitution upholds a freedom of religion so believers can go to church and hear the truth.
Not all countries have ready access to the Word of God. In his book “The Heavenly Man,” Brother Yun describes how when he read the book of Matthew, he memorized the whole thing and later shared it with his family and neighbors. In China, they didn’t have Bibles lying around to read at one’s leisure.
During the Soviet Union, a group of young adults met in secret in Moscow to see how much of the Bible they could reconstruct from what they had memorized. In the course of the week, they wrote down the four gospels, much of the Psalms, and many hymns.
How could these young people memorize whole books of the Bible? One verse at a time.
The key to learning anything is starting small. I love God’s Word, but am nowhere near able to recite an entire gospel like these people in closed countries. I spent one year memorizing the book of Philippians, but it took the entire year. Learning God’s Word takes effort, but the time invested will yield eternal rewards. Here are a few reasons we should learn Scriptures:
Love for God
If someone you loved wrote you a letter, wouldn’t you read it? And if it included encouraging words, maybe you would even repeat those words to yourself. When I love God, I will not only want to read His Word, but commit it to memory.
Desire for Obedience
Since God’s love language is obedience (John 14:15), if I want to obey God, I need to know the Word. Psalm 119:11 says, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.” The Holy Spirit uses each verse I treasure to help me not to succumb to temptation.
Memorized verses are strong weapons in my spiritual arsenal to undermine the attacks of the enemy. First Corinthians 10:13 that says, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” God won’t tempt me, instead He will create a way for me to escape if I look for the exit ramp.
An example would be when I want to snap at someone irritating. The Holy Spirit reminds me of Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (NKJV). I have a choice in how I respond. I can answer with soft words or makes things worse by countering with frustration. Thinking about the verse slows my reaction time and helps me respond with kindness that dissipates tense moments. All because I knew the verse.
Importance of Learning the Whole Verse
One problem I face is memorizing Scripture references. In writing this blog, I forgot that the verse I just used was found in Proverbs 15:1. Fortunately, I used a concordance, but that is not always an option. Once while doing missions overseas, I tried to find a Bible verse for someone in a foreign language. I couldn’t whip out my Russian concordance because I didn’t have one. I missed the chance to share the gospel to an interested soul because I focused on memorizing just the words in the verse. Knowing where the passage is from is just as important.
Now that we’ve discussed some of the benefits of committing God’s Word to heart, will you join me in memorizing Scripture? On my social media, I used to post a verse of the day. The Lord placed on my heart a desire to share a memory verse of the week. I write the same verse every day for a week so that repeated exposure helps the truth stick in people’s minds. Here’s this week’s memory verse:
Proverbs 3:3, “Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.”
Proverbs 3:3 admonishes us to tie mercy and truth around our necks and write them on my hearts, wearing them wherever we go. When we keep God’s truth nearby, we won’t rush into sin from deceit because truth outshines the lies. Mercy will catch us if we fall and usher us back into the light of the Lord.
Each post includes short notes of commentary or memorization tips. If you are like me, especially since the invention of smart phones, I find it tough to remember anything. Here is a list of ten ways to help you memorize Bible verses.
Ten Scripture Memory Techniques:
Today I welcome guest blogger Stephanie Pavlantos to share with us about her Bible study “Jewels of Hebrews.” I met Stephanie through my Blue Ridge Bible Study Facebook group. Though we’ve not met in person, I’ve always enjoyed her blogs and been blessed by her as a friend on the writing journey. May you be dazzled by the riches of God’s Word in the book of Hebrews as Stephanie examines not only the verses, but the Jewish culture and Hebrew language to illuminate truths.
Jewels of Hebrews
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44, ESV
I’m a scientist and a researcher. I worked in cancer and AIDS research, and later I worked as a histotechnologist in a hospital pathology lab. Researching comes naturally to me, as does teaching.
Teaching is my first love. I taught biology, chemistry, and anatomy in homeschool co-ops, and the Lord called me to teach Bible studies over twenty years ago. Researching the biblical languages, culture, and history excite me.
So, when the Lord put a man who spoke and taught Hebrew in my life, I had to know more. The little he shared with my husband and me intrigued me. I began researching everything I could find about Messianic beliefs, the Hebrew alphabet, the culture, and the Feasts.
I saw things I had never seen in Scripture through reading rabbis and rabbinical/ Messianic books.
When the Lord led me to write a Bible study on the book of Hebrews, I loved the Hebrew-ness of it. I appreciated the first four verses of chapter one and how the author described Jesus, or Yeshua. I knew I would have to use the name Yeshua because I saw His Jewishness in this book, and I was eager to show others.
After writing the first six chapters, the Lord gave me a theme: Jewels.
I found a website on the biblical meaning of the different colors of gemstones. Amazingly, of course, there was a color that fit each of the chapters already written. It came together like Someone had already planned it.
One thing that floored me about the Hebrew letters is how different they are from our alphabet. We have the letter “b,” but Hebrew has the letter bet. Their letters are words, and those words have meaning. Bet means house or tent.
We write the word manna with the letters mem and nun or מך (reading right to left). Mem can mean water or something that comes down from heaven, and nun means life (and can mean fish).
John 6:32-33 says, “Jesus then said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’” (ESV)
In this verse, Jesus gives the meaning of the true bread, which is the one who comes down from Heaven to give life. That is the definition of manna.
The Gospels are full of Hebrew idioms and proverbs that Jesus referenced when he spoke.
In Matthew 6:22-23, Jesus says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (ESV)
A Hebrew saying is, “Give with a good eye” or give generously. A bad eye is a selfish person.
That’s why Matthew 6:24 says,
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
You will find these and other gems like them in Jewels of Hebrews.
To introduce each chapter, I tell a story of a famous gem or piece of jewelry. I base each chapter on a specific stone like the amethyst, ruby, emerald, topaz, pink diamond, or other colored precious gem. Each color stands for a characteristic of Jesus, i.e. ruby stands for blood, salvation, redemption, or sacrifice.
Your job as you read and work through that chapter of Hebrews is to find the verses which deal with the characteristics that match the gems. All the while you are learning about the Old and New Testament, Hebrew language, culture, and the Jewishness of Jesus.
In this study, you will see Jesus as the High Priest, Savior, and Jewish rabbi He was and still is.
Jewels of Hebrews is an expositional thirteen-week study for individual or group study. Within the study there is teaching, fill-in-the-blank, and reflection.
Back cover copy: You are a treasure hunter on a mission to find hidden jewels. Your guide Stephanie Pavlantos has gone before you and now joins you on an expedition to unearth a hidden gem from each chapter of Hebrews. When you open your beloved Bible and dive deep into the book, you will find a rare diamond, ruby, sapphire, and other gems. You will explore the rich history of the early church and the connections the book of Hebrews has to the Old Testament. The supremacy of Yeshua and his royalty will be revealed as the Jewels of Hebrews are discovered one chapter at a time. Learn about these jewels and the meaning of their color as you find relatable and practical applications for modern times. Get ready for a life-changing journey! Yeshua is eager to reveal the Jewels of Hebrews to you and crown you his prince or princess.
Stephanie Pavlantos is passionate about getting people into God’s Word. She has taught Bible studies for fifteen years and has spoken at ladies’ retreats.
She is ordained with Messenger Fellowship in Nashville, TN. Stephanie works for Besorah Institute for Judeo-Christian Studies in the Student Services department as well as teaching online classes.
She is published in Refresh Bible study magazine, Charisma magazine, and CBN.com. She is also a contributor to www.VineWords.net, Feed Your Soul with the Word of God compilation by Lighthousebiblestudies.com, and Love Knots compilation by VineWords Publishing.
You can visit her blog at www.stephaniepavlantos.com and other social media sites at twitter @DPavlantos and www.facebook.com/stephaniepavlantos.
Her Bible study, Jewels of Hebrews, won a third place at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (2018), an Honorable Mention at the Florida Christian Writers Conference (2019) and is a finalist in the Selah Awards at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (2021).
Married for twenty-nine years, she and Mike have three children, Matthew, Alexandria, and Michael. Stephanie loves animals and has dogs, ducks, sheep, and chickens.
This week's guest blog is by Jennifer Thayer Knight. We both recently attended the Flourish Writer's Retreat online and connected virtually. We share a desire to encourage believers as they deepen their relationships with Christ. I pray her words bless you.
Spring Is In The Air
Jennifer Thayer Knight
As I sit on my porch on this early spring day in Montana, I am delighted at the sound of fluttering wings as the birds play in the bushes beside me. Their warbling is a welcome addition, as you do not hear it for months. The snow has cleared in the valley, at least for today, and the grass is turning its lovely shade of green. The sun’s rays warm my skin, and I am captured by the beauty of the snow-capped mountains that surround me. Spring is in the air.
In Montana, we experience three to five springs, a brief summer, and then four to six autumns. The winter fights for its place and often wins. Most of the time, spring starts in May and comes and goes through June, but this year was a surprise. Spring started in late March.
Each season brings its own treasures, but spring offers hope for new beginnings. The trees and bushes bud, bunnies hop around the yard, and everything becomes alive. Do you ever desire an awakening in your spirit?
For I Am About To Do Something New
During hard seasons of life, I long for a fresh start. Challenges get overwhelming and I believe I cannot handle one more thing thrown my way. I wait for God to present me with something new.
Isaiah 43:19 says, “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland” (NLT).
Does this verse spark a sense of hope within you? It does for me. When Isaiah penned God’s words, the Israelite people were in captivity in Babylon. He prayed for freedom, and to return to the promised land. God answered by saying He was already working and asked, “Do you not see it?”
God is always working in our lives, even when we cannot see it. He is moving and making a way for you and me. This is where faith must come in. Faith is having complete trust in what we cannot see. We have to believe God has our best interest at heart, because He does. Sometimes we feel like Job, stuck in the mud and the mire, but know God is working behind the scenes. He did not promise life with Him would be easy, but He promised that He would be by our side the entire time.
God asked, “Do you not see it?” It makes me ponder the things I miss that He wants me to see. I have started studying the Hebrew alphabet and the meanings behind each letter. The letter ך, known as the Daleth, has multiple definitions, but one meaning it represents is a door into the spiritual world.
Chaim Bentorah in his book, “Hebrew Word Study, Beyond The Lexicon,” says, “We are often so hurried in our lives and so focused on the material that we miss out on the many ordinary doorways to the spiritual world which offer us a knowledge of God. We can interpret a little bird dancing and singing on our porch as a distraction which may leave a mess that we must clean up, or we can pause and pass through the Daleth and realize that here is a small part of the creation of God presenting to us beauty, peace, and serenity. We must pause in our busy lives to anticipate the little Daleths, or doorways, that God will open to share with us the things of the spirit, fill what is lacking or deficient in the physical world, to take the poverty of this physical world and fill it with the blessings of God’s spirit.”
Don’t Miss The Miracles
Most of us do not want to miss these miracles in our daily lives. I have attempted to slow down and observe what God has placed around me. I prayed for God to not let me miss what He is doing so that it will grow my faith to sustain me through the hard times. Please join me in this and ask God to not let you miss what He is doing, even amid trouble.
God also reminds us in Isaiah 43:19 that He will make a way. He will provide rivers in the desert wasteland. When we come to the Father asking for Him to get us through, or out of, the trials, sometimes it is an immediate change. Yet, more often than not, it is a process. He will lead you out, but you must walk through the desert to get there. He assures you that He will provide for you every step of the way.
Matthew Henry says in his commentary, “He promises not only to deliver them out of Babylon, but to conduct them safely and comfortably to their own land… the same power that made a way in the sea (parting of the red sea) can make a way in the wilderness. And He can produce waters in the driest land, in such abundance as not only to give drink to His people, His chosen, but to the beasts of the field, also the dragons and the ostriches, who are therefore said to honor God for it.”
I want to finish with words to encourage you. No matter where you are in your walk with God, maybe you're on the mountaintop, or maybe you're in the valley: stop, breathe, and look around. Watch for opportunities for the Lord to speak, to draw you closer, offer you peace and allow Him to show you what He is doing in your life. The place you are in may be hard, but it will be for His glory to shine.
Jennifer Thayer Knight, aka Jen, grew up in Orange, Texas, a small town bordering Louisiana. As a relatively new Christian, Jen met and married Sam, thereby entering the whirlwind of being a pastor’s wife. Now more than two decades later, they have served at four churches, lived in three states, and had three amazing children, plus too many pets to count.
In 2017, Jen began her battle with Lyme disease. This illness inspires creativity in her writing, new ways to serve God, and innovative discipleship methods. Jen seeks to share her experiences to draw others into a deeper, experiential relationship with Christ.
When she is not writing, Jen loves knitting, reading, and spending time with her family, her dogs and her horse. Discover more about Jennifer Thayer Knight at her website: http://jenniferthayerknight.com/
Joanna Eccles has led Bible studies for over ten years and completed the year-long C. S. Lewis Fellows Program. She is passionate about discipleship and helping people know God better. Joanna enjoys coffee, traveling, and reading, and currently lives in Virginia.